The Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) is a smart grid innovation acceleration centre, which brings together academics, engineers and technologists to define and execute research, development, and demonstration projects with the aim of shaping and optimising smart electricity networks of the future. The ‘real life’ distribution network at the PNDC provides a unique platform for researching, developing and demonstrating innovative solutions for enabling the energy transition. The PNDC is part of the University of Strathclyde’s department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE).

Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

The facility is comprised of an 11kV and 400V distribution network representative of a typical UK distribution network including assets such as substations and MV switchgear. The network offers flexibility in its configuration so that different network topologies can be realised and new assets under test can be readily connected.

The facility also provides real-time simulation and an industrial communication infrastructure to facilitate controller and systems testing in an accelerated fashion. The main capabilities of the PNDC facility are:

  • 5MVA motor-generator set: main 11kV supply for the test network. Enables flexibility in setting the network voltage and frequency as well as feed disturbances in isolation of the public grid.
  • 540kVA Triphase bi-directional power converter: LV connected programmable power supply that can be used to emulate DER, non-linear loads and DC sources and loads (up to 1300Vdc).
  • 6-rack RTDS: PB5 based RTDS system with comprehensive I/O, which enables CHIL and PHIL experimental setups.
  • Industrial backbone and field communications: wired and wireless communication infrastructure for the implementation and testing of high-speed backbone and low power field communications solutions. PTP based synchronisation is sued for time-critical applications.
  • Distributed & synchronised MV and LV measurements: Bekhoff Automation based analogue acquisition system with distributed and synchronised measurement nodes that enables high fidelity recording of transient and dynamic test events. Additional power quality analysers are also available.

The following main services are offered by the PNDC:

CHIL and PHIL testing: the RTDS is used to realise CHIL test configurations to verify the performance of protection and control solutions. PHIL test configuration are achieved by using the 11kV motor-generator set or LV connected power converter as amplifiers.

DER integration and testing: AC or DC interfaced DER can be connected to the PNDC test network to evaluate their performance as a device under test or as part of ancillary service provision. These may include energy storage systems, inverter-interfaced generation or virtual synchronous machines. Evaluation of multi-vector energy systems could be accommodated as part of a PHIL setup.

Digital communications testing: the communication infrastructure can be used for the integration of devices or systems under test or to evaluate the impact of different communications technologies and cybersecurity implementations on the performance of system under test. The infrastructure supports communication standards such as DNP3, IEC 61850, LoRaWAN.

Sensors testing: different LV and MV sensor technologies can be connected to the PNDC test network and evaluated for performance. These may include electrical, mechanical and environmental measurements as well as testing of novel measurement algorithms as part of the sensor system integration.

Network and asset characterisation: various dynamic and transient operating conditions can be applied to the test network or connected assets to characterise their behaviour. Such test may include finger printing of non-linear loads, determining the frequency response of a controller and determining the sensitivity of a protection algorithm.

Short circuit testing: Resistive MV faults and solid LV fault can be applied to the test network as part of a functional or ride-through test for sensors, control and protection algorithms and inverter-connected DER.

The EEE department’s Institute for Energy and Environment (InstEE) represents one of Europe’s largest power systems and energy technology university research groups. Comprising 32 members of academic staff, over 200 research staff and students, and 18 technical and administrative colleagues. The PNDC complements the InstEE Dynamic Power Systems Laboratory (DPSL). The PNDC focuses on mid-TRL testing and innovation projects in partnership with industry.

Induction and safety

The users will be inducted to the facility and a risk assessment of the work is expected to be in place at least two weeks prior to the commencement of work.

For safety reasons, any work involving live equipment, is not to be operated by the users themselves; experimental tests will be carried out by PNDC technical and research staff. Access to simulators, or other preparatory work not involving live equipment, will be granted, provided necessary reservations have been made in advance by the users by consulting with the PNDC project lead. The scheduling of the experiments will be agreed and booked prior to the stay according to the availability of the involved staff and equipment. Administrative documentation for the access (contract, non-disclosure agreement, etc.) will comply with ERIGrid common indications. The access being offered includes supervision and help of PNDC staff:

  • As a complement to the pre-access contacts between the user group and PNDC, the stay will start with an introductory meeting with a senior researcher for confirming the stay conditions (confidentiality, safety indications), scheduling the activities, explaining the on-site procedures, clarifying the logistics and technical details.
  • Preparatory work: a laboratory technician will assist the users for the installation of the devices, electrical connections, use of the specific instrumentation, preparation of a test procedure (if necessary) on the basis of the users’ requests, and programming of the experimental conditions.
  • PNDC researchers will support the realisation and follow-up of the experiments.
  • PNDC researchers will support the results interpretation, data processing and analysis, and test report preparation.
  • It is expected that the work undertaken at the RI is disseminated. Previous collaborative visits to the RI have resulted in reputable journal and conference publications.

Reimbursement of expenses

User expenses for the Transnational Access are paid by ERIGrid (EU H2020 Programme). This includes travels to PNDC by plane (economy), accommodation, daily subsistence, and daily transportation during the stay.

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